Lewis Hamilton admits Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will be having a very different experience fighting for his first world championship than he did, with the seven-time world champion adding his first title battle was “horrendous.”
In just his second year in Formula One in 2008, McLaren’s new sensation Hamilton was embroiled in a tense battle with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who finished just one point behind the Briton in the standings.
In a tense end to the season, Hamilton crucially overtook Toyota’s Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the final Grand Prix of the season to claim the required 5th-place finish to beat Massa.
But now, with seven titles under his belt, six coming from his time at Mercedes alone, Hamilton reflected on his first title fight in comparison with Verstappen’s at Red Bull.
“My first title? It was horrendous. The journey was terrible, but he’s [Verstappen] what, six years in? I was in my second year,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
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“I didn’t have a great structure around me in terms of management, I didn’t have help to know how to handle all these curveballs sent at me. I didn’t have all the experience, I didn’t have all the tools – except the ones in the car – but I was learning all these other tools in order to how to be a great team-mate, work with a group of people and help them elevate, and all these kind of things. Which was different for me then.
“I’m grateful I’ve had the experiences, I know how to build my team, I know how to win with my team and I know how to enjoy the ups and downs with my team.”
Ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen responded to Hamilton’s suggestion that pressure could be getting to Dutchman after the two collided during the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton initially shared empathy with the 24-year-old, adding: “I remember what it was like battling for my first championship, and obviously I’m fighting for something like my tenth battle or something like that.”
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Verstappen hit back saying: “I think if someone knows me, they think I’m very relaxed about all those things, and I really can’t be bothered, you know.
“I’m very chilled and it’s the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you go into every weekend and you can fight for a win.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re just leading a championship or not.”
Verstappen holds a 12-point lead over the seven-time world champion heading into the final five races of the season.